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thereviewman

The Review Man

Formerly of Goodreads, now of both words, in the coming times only here?

Currently reading

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
Robert M. Pirsig
Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)
Jean Baudrillard, Sheila Faria Glaser
Leaven of Malice
Robertson Davies
The Salterton Trilogy
Robertson Davies
Effi Briest (Penguin Classics)
Theodor Fontane
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
Nicholas Ostler
Cases And Materials On The Law Of Torts
Robert M. Solomon
Public Law : Cases Materials and Commentary
Philip Bryden, Craik, Neil, Craig Forcese, Forcese, Craig
A Property Law Reader
Bruce H. Ziff
Mockingjay - Collins Suzanne AS USUAL, SPOILERS

Mockingjay is the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Alas, there are no Hunger Games in this book. There are also few to no mockingjays. A better title might have been Whiny Teenage Girl.

Mockingjay chronicles the increasingly implausible adventures of Katniss Everdeen. This time, when she's not taking down fighter jets with a bow and arrow (!), she's spending most of her time as a deluded Peeta-obsessed mental patient in a hospital. I'm not much of a feminist but even I can tell that your 'strong female character' isn't that strong when she spends every waking minute thinking about a boy. I didn't bother checking to see if Katniss passes the Bechdel test, but even if she does, it's only a token victory.

The only other important character, Peeta, spends the novel either zombified or trying to kill Katniss. Cute—now there are no fully-functional main characters left in the novel! Remember how Gale's part in the first two books was so small that he was hardly a major player? Well by the time he gets to speak his mind in Mockingjay, we discover that he too is insane. It's too bad Katniss didn't spend more time with him in The Hunger Games—maybe she'd have discovered that he's a trigger-happy psychopath!

Speaking of, Collins seems to like killing characters too. Let's not forget that the author is God of the story—she controls who lives, who dies, and who does what; we're left to hope that there's some logic governing it all. We certainly didn't get much logic with the hatchet job Collins pulls on Gale in books 1 and 2, so expectations are hardly high. Her treatment of Katniss and Peeta in Mockingjay isn't much better, but by this point that's par for the course. But when Collins pulls out all the stops and kills Prim, any semblance of logic is completely lost. Why purpose does her death serve? Is this Collins' way of warning us that Gale's a sociopath-in-the-making? I can't figure it out. Even if Collins intended for this death to have wide-ranging consequences, Katniss is over it bizarrely quickly. What is this supposed to say about her? What's the point of having Gale in the trilogy in the first place?

It's not just Prim's death, though; the entire ending is poorly plotted. Katniss valiantly fights her way into the Capitol only to be knocked out by an explosion. By the time she comes to, everything's over rather anticlimactically. Then Katniss decides—apparently on a whim, because there's really no rationale given here—to murder someone for kicks. What's more, she's applauded for her actions! (What a great message to send to Collins' readers!) Then Gale disappears off to who-knows-where (the poor guy is such a useless character that his send-off isn't even shown—it's a throwaway line courtesy of Katniss), Katniss' mother also drops off the map completely (seriously, did Collins' editors not pick up on these unresolved arcs?), and Katniss and Peeta decide that they don't actually want to tear each other's faces off and instead want to have cute kids and live happily ever after. Riiight.

In previous reviews I explained that this ending was telegraphed from the end of the first book, so I'm not going to repeat my arguments here. I was a bit disappointed though—for an ending that had been hyped for so long—really since midway through the second novel—it lacks punch. It reads much like the ending to the final Harry Potter book, or even a bit like the last few minutes of LOST: an emotional character moment that comes at the expense of plot and character arc resolution.

I've read many a review on Goodreads complaining that Collins dropped the ball with Mockingjay. There's some truth to that assertion (the characterization is particularly bad this time around), but in truth Collins never bothered to pick the ball up in the first place. The majority of Mockingjay's problems were there from the beginning; after a thousand pages, they become so amplified, so glaringly obvious that even the most casual readers pick up on them and rightfully complain.

Expect the film version to be split into two parts, even though Collins hardly provides enough material for one 120-minute adaptation. So it goes.